Lamb rib chops, also called “lamb lollipops” in reference to their size, are extraordinarily delicious and tender. When fresh figs are in season, as they are now, incorporate them into the sauce in addition to or instead of the dried ones. Serve the chops with simple green salad and orzo or couscous.
Seared Baby Lamb Chops with Fig-Balsamic Pan Sauce
1 rack of lamb, about 2 lb. (1 kg.) and 8 ribs, chine bone removed, frenched and well trimmed of fat
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. unsalted butter
1 oz. (30 g.) prosciutto, finely chopped
2 large shallots, minced
4 dried (or fresh) figs, stems removed, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml.) good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 3/4 cups (14 fl. oz./430 ml.) reduced-sodium beef broth, simmered to reduce to about 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.)
1 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, for finishing the sauce (optional)
Cut midway between every second bone of the rack to yield 4 double-rib chops. (Or ask your butcher to do this for you.) Pat the chops thoroughly dry and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F (110 degrees C) and place a baking dish inside.
Place a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil, and heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. Add the chops. Sear without moving them until golden brown, 2-2 1/2 minutes. Turn and sear for 2-2 1/2 minutes more. Lift each chop with tongs and sear all the fatty edges, about 1 minute total. Transfer the chops to the baking dish in the oven and continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a chop, away from the bone, registers 135 degrees F (57 degrees C) for medium-rare, 20-30 minutes, or to your desired doneness. Let rest for about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, discard any oil from the pan, add the 2 teaspoons butter, and melt over medium-low heat. Add the prosciutto and shallots, and cook until the shallots are softened and the prosciutto is golden, about 2 minutes. Add the figs, rosemary and vinegar, raise the heat to medium, and deglaze the pan, scarping to remove any browned bits from the bottom. Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by about two-thirds, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in the broth and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and, if desired, stir in the cold butter until melted.
Arrange the chops on warmed plates, top with the sauce, and serve at once. Serves 2-4.
Recipe from The Cook & the Butcher, by Brigit Binns.